Antibiotic-resistant bacteria: The new drug can fight 300 different types of superbugs

Researchers found that fabimicin, a not-yet-approved antibiotic, works against infections caused by 300 types of gram-negative bacteria (pictured)

Is the end of superbugs in sight? The new drug can fight 300 different types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

  • The new drug appears to kill resistant bacteria that cause pneumonia and UTIs
  • Infections are often almost impossible to treat due to antibiotic resistance
  • Researchers say the drug could one day be used to treat infections in humans

Scientists have developed a drug that they hope could lead the fight against superbugs.

Fabimicin, a man-made antibiotic, was found to kill hundreds of bacteria resistant to common drugs.

Superbugs are estimated to contribute to around 7 million deaths a year, and some experts warn they should be taken as seriously as global warming.

They have developed resistance to common antibiotics due to over-prescription or incorrect use of the drugs, known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The study found that fabimicin eliminated drug-resistant pneumonia and urinary tract infections (UTIs) in mice.

Further research in a laboratory setting revealed that the drug was also effective against 300 other strains of superbugs.

The researchers said the findings could pave the way to treating stubborn infections in humans.

Researchers found that fabimicin, a not-yet-approved antibiotic, works against infections caused by 300 types of gram-negative bacteria (pictured)


GPs and hospital staff have dispensed antibiotics unnecessarily for decades, feeding previously harmless bacteria to become superbugs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) previously warned that if nothing is done, the world is heading for a “post-antibiotic” era.

He stated that common infections, such as chlamydia, will become killers without immediate solutions to the growing crisis.

Bacteria can become drug-resistant when people take the wrong doses of antibiotics or if they are given unnecessarily.

Former chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies claimed in 2016 that the threat of antibiotic resistance is as severe as terrorism.

Figures estimate that superbugs will kill 10 million people each year by 2050, with patients succumbing to previously harmless bugs.

Around 700,000 people already die each year from drug-resistant infections such as tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria worldwide.

Concerns have been repeatedly raised that medicine will return to the “dark ages” if antibiotics become ineffective in the coming years.

In addition to existing drugs being less effective, only one or two new antibiotics have been developed in the last 30 years.

In 2019, the WHO warned that antibiotics were “running out” as a report found a “severe shortage” of new drugs in development.

Without antibiotics, C-sections, cancer treatments and hip replacements will become incredibly “risky”, it was said at the time.

Millions of people worldwide are infected by gram-negative bacteria, including E. coli, every year. They are behind 75% of drug-resistant deaths worldwide.

Rising rates of superbugs have fueled fears that routine medical conditions and operations could become more dangerous as patients succumb to previously treatable bacterial infections.

The latest study, published in the scientific journal ACS Central Science, was led by researchers at the University of Illinois.

They used an existing antibiotic called Debio-1452, which is in phase 2 clinical trials in the US for use against staph bacteria. The insects cause skin infections, blood poisoning and toxic shock syndrome.

The researchers modified the drug to create 14 different versions with the goal of making it work against the superbugs.

It was tested on 10 different bacteria in mice, including E. coli, which can cause urinary tract infections, as well as stomach bugs, and K. pneumoniae, which can cause lung infections and pneumonia.

One of the modified versions of Debio-1452, called fabimicin, was the only candidate that prevented all types of bacteria from multiplying in the experiments. So the researchers took it to the next stage of trials.

It was tested against harmless human bacteria and was shown not to kill him, suggesting that the antibiotic would not harm people if tested in humans.

Probiotics, known as “friendly bacteria”, help restore the natural balance of bacteria in the gut, which is vital for digestion.

The researchers then tested fabimicin on 300 more strains of harmful bacteria and found it killed them all.

Writing in the paper, the authors said: “Urinary tract infections represent one of the greatest risks for healthy people in terms of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, with many people contracting one over the course of their life

“UTIs caused by Gram-negative pathogens, especially those that are drug-resistant, are increasingly common and remain a major clinical challenge.

“Fabimycin holds translational promise, and its discovery provides additional evidence that antibiotics can be systematically modified to accumulate in Gram-negative bacteria and kill these problematic pathogens.”

About 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections are thought to occur in the US each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This results in about 35,900 deaths from these diseases in the United States, more than half the estimated 23,000 in 2013.

Some 61,000 antibiotic-resistant infections occurred in England in 2018, according to the latest estimates from health chiefs. But it is not clear how many deaths they caused.


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